Holiday Time

Student life was great. Sometimes I long for the days. The holiday season would come and you would finish the last final, close the books, and start winter break. Most of our work opportunities do not have the same luxury of shutting down from the Thursday or Friday before Christmas until the Monday or Tuesday after New Year’s Day. The holiday season was a time to travel home and visit family, to reconnect with old friends, and to recharge.

Adulting does not always allow for the same extended days off during the holiday season as school years did. Our responsibilities to clients and customers influence when we can take a day off, when we need to be at full staff, and when we can shut down. But what about vacation time? Academic studies show that even a short break from work, i.e. four days, can improve one’s health and wellbeing. And vacation time is also found to lower absenteeism and lower stress levels. So, while we know time off is beneficial, and time off during the holidays is coveted, how does a business manage the requests for time off while keeping the doors open and the customers happy?

Here are a few strategies to look at to make the most for everyone this holiday season.

1. Plan it collectively. There are some businesses that need all hands on deck during the busy holiday season. If your business is busiest during the holidays, take some time to talk with all team members about the holiday work-load expectations. This conversation on expectations can include discussing days that are available for time off. The days that fewer team members are needed to meet the customers’ needs. Together, your team can figure out how to support each other’s needs.

With this comes the caution of balance and being fair to everyone. Employees with school-aged children or those with family from out-of-town may make those with more life flexibility or local family feel like they get the short straw. Be sure these individuals are not making all the concessions.

2. Don’t be judgmental about how people spend their time off. We all recharge in different ways. Some people ski and some people board, others ride snowmobiles and others fat bike. But seriously, scheduling the time off is not to be judged or prioritized by the employee’s activities. Let people spend their time away from work in a way that suits their needs.

3. Consider a full-scale shutdown. We have seen many restaurants do this in the off-season preparing for the upcoming busy season. Examine if your operation can shut down. A common shut-down is between Christmas Day and New Year’s. Or, perhaps extend a day or two beyond Boxing Day. Studies show even a four-day vacation can provide health and wellness benefits for employees.

If you are lucky enough to get extended time off during the holidays, do not stress about how you spend your time off. One study analyzed how people spent their vacation time. Some did physical activities while others did not. Some spent time socializing while others did not. No matter how the individuals spent their holiday, they reaped the same benefits from time off. The good news in all of this – vacations benefit employees and benefit businesses. The business will see better retention of staff, less stressed staff, and less absenteeism.

Take care this holiday season. Be sure to take some time with your favourite people. I hope you can all celebrate the successes of the past year while looking forward to a great future.